Facebook has announced that it will compensate partners of gay and lesbian employees covered by its medical plans who are unfairly taxed.

The company said that it will reimburse gay and lesbian couples who do not receive federal tax breaks because their relationships are not recognised under discriminatory US federal law.

US employees will be paid to offset the additional federal tax liability incurred by receiving the company’s medical, dental or vision benefits.

“Under current federal law, same-sex couples face the unfair burden of having their health benefits taxed while married opposite-sex couples do not,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the US’s largest gay rights group, the Human Right Campaign.

“For many LGBT employees, this tax penalty means they cannot afford to accept health coverage for their families. I applaud Facebook for recognising the challenges LGBT employees face and doing their part to address these inequities.”

The practice of reimbursing employees for taxes on domestic partner health benefits, called “grossing up,” is increasing in popularity. Other companies – such as Barclay’s, Google, Cisco Systems – have also been following this trend.

“Until federal law recognises that all families should be on equal footing, it is up to individual employers to address the needs of LGBT employees and their families,” said Daryl Herrschaft, director of HRC’s Workplace Project. “Facebook now adds its name to a growing list of companies recognising that equality is a good business practice.”

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